Russia, Japan, China and Japan only remaining countries where Facebook not leading social network says founder
Facebook’s global dominance is almost complete with just Russia, Japan, China and Japan yet to be converted and the social networking giant aiming to reach one billion users, founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg also admitted that one day he could see Facebook floating on the stockmarket — just not anytime soon.
He added that there was “no chance” Facebook, which has cracked the 500 million user mark, would hit one billion this year but argued that “it is almost a guarantee that it will happen”.
“If we succeed [in innovating and remaining relevant] there is a good chance of bringing this to a billion people ... it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” he said speaking to two packed auditoriums — one via video link — at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
Facebook’s global domination is almost complete, he said. “We are down to just four countries where we aren’t the leading social network.” Zuckerberg added that in Russia Facebook had just one million users, the kind of numbers that saw AOL sell off Bebo and ITV relinquish Friends Reunited. But in Facebook’s case, growth is “doubling every six months”, according to Zuckerberg, and Japan and Korea have similar user bases.
He said that Facebook can tell when an explosive growth “tipping point” is about to be reached by who is “friending” who. When Facebook first launches in a country, nearly all the friend connections are with foreign Facebook users.
“We know that a country has tipped when loca-to-local connections outnumber local to foreign,” he added. “It is a long-term thing [and with regard to the four left to tip] we are probably not going to win in six months, not in a year [but] things look promising in three to five years out.” He also said the company would make an initial public offering. “At some point, sure,” he said. “It is probably not that different [running a public company compared with a privately held one].” However, after many sceptical guffaws in the Cannes audience he backtracked and said: “OK, I’m sure it is a lot different.” Zuckerberg added that one of the issues was that he was in it with a long-term view, which most investors are not if you go public, which he admitted was a “challenge”.
He also addressed concerns over privacy, explaining that Facebook’s meteoric growth had meant the company had been caught out while it was in “transition”. However, he added that the changing face of how privacy is perceived now that users are in a digital age meant that there were always going to be “natural tensions”.
“Six years ago most people didn’t want any information about themselves on web,” he said. “To start off people were a bit reticent about this. Then over time people think it is great to be connected and share things. I think the world looks a lot different now. There is a real natural tension between people seeing the value of sharing more stuff but wanting control over what they share.” Zuckerberg added that as Facebook developed it built privacy controls for everything. At one point there were more than 100 individual settings users could change, which it had been important to simplify as the company had to “transition [and be] pretty quick to adjust and evolve to 500 million users”.
“People have very legitimate questions and it is an important dialogue,” he said.